GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK Motherboard Review

by Rob Williams on August 27, 2014 in Motherboards

Our last two Z97 reviews involved some petite motherboards, so it’s time to go all-out – something GIGABYTE’s Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK helps us pull off. Its name implies that gamers are the target here, and as you’d expect from its $350 price tag, it’s packed with features. What more reason do you need to read? Come on in.

Page 5 – Performance Testing

From a performance perspective, we feel that motherboard benchmarking is useless. It’s the motherboard’s job to allow all of the installed hardware to operate at its full potential, so in theory, a $100 option shouldn’t be much (or any) slower than a $300 one. The differences in price instead comes down to the quality of the onboard components and other features.

So why do it at all? It’s because it’s important to make sure that the board we’re dealing with doesn’t lack in one particular area versus the rest. If board A performs 2% slower than board B in PCMark, for example, that’s of no concern to us – random benchmark variance is a fact of life. However, if one board consistently performs weaker than the rest, that’s worthy of note – it could suggest that weaker components have been used which do not allow the hardware to operate at its full potential.

Please bear this in mind when perusing our results. Just because a board under-performs in a single test, it doesn’t mean anything in regards to its quality as a whole. Our ultimate goal here is to make sure that each board we test performs as we’d expect across the gamut of scenarios we pit them against.

Techgage Intel Z97 Test OS
Our Intel Z97 Testing OS (Wallpaper Credit)

Note: ASUS’ Z97I-PLUS was tested with its ‘MultiCore Enhancement’ option left enabled. This means that the CPU was clock-boosted, which will result in improved performance over MSI’s Z97I Gaming AC and GIGABYTE’s Z97X-Gaming G1, both of which ran at absolute stock, CPU-wise. Also, because the design of the MSI board prevented me from using the same tall memory sticks I had used for testing the the other boards with, the specs are dissimilar. The MSI board was tested with 8GB of memory spec’d at DDR3-1866 – a stark contrast to the 16GB of DDR3-2133 we normally use. A difference in hardware like this isn’t ideal, but this particular motherboard forced my hand. None of our tests exhaust 8GB of memory, so the sole difference here will be via the frequency.

Intel LGA1150 Test System
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K – Quad-Core, 3.50GHz
Motherboard ASUS Z97I-PLUS (BIOS: ‘2103’ 07/03/2014)
MSI Z97I Gaming AC (BIOS: ‘1.2’ 06/30/2014)
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK (BIOS: ‘F5’ 05/30/2014)
Memory Kingston HyperX Beast 2x8GB – DDR3-2133 11-12-11-31
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti (GeForce 334.98 Driver)
Audio Onboard
Storage Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair HX850W
Chassis Corsair Obsidian 700D Full-Tower
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Air Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Increasing the BCLK value is one way that vendors could sneak in some higher-than-stock performance numbers, so after letting the test bench sit idle for a couple of minutes, we look at the current BCLK value as according to CPU-Z.

BCLK Values Result
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 100.0 MHz
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 100.0 MHz

General System Performance

To take a look at the “overall” performance of our PC configuration, we rely on dual Futuremark suites: PCMark 8 and 3DMark (2013).

PCMark 8 Suite Scores Home Work Creative
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 4346 5255 3478
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 4274 5126 3444
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 4214 5123 3343
Higher results are better.
3DMark (2013) 3DMark Graphics Physics
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 3286 3464 11116
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 3261 3434 11165
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 3273 3458 10604
Fire Strike test. 3DMark results in points; higher is better.

All boards perform well here, with ASUS getting the slight edge that we expected it would. Interestingly, though, while the GIGABYTE and MSI boards go head-to-head in Home and Work, the big G comes close to the ASUS in Creative.

I/O Performance

To properly give the internal SATA 6Gbps a good workout, we turn to HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark.

HD Tune Pro 5 Minimum Average Maximum Latency
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 309.6 422.5 460.6 0.056ms
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 313.3 418.9 452.8 0.055ms
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 305.3 418.6 455.2 0.055ms
Min/Avg/Max results in MB/s; higher is better. Latency results in ms; lower is better.
CrystalDiskMark Read Seq. Read 4K Write Seq. Write 4K
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 523.1 41.87 317.8 161.1
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 494.9 41.29 311.4 159.9
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 494.5 40.83 309.8 153.4
All results in MB/s.
CrystalDiskMark USB 3.0 Read Seq. Read 4K Write Seq. Write 4K
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 273.5 29.20 271.2 70.72
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 270.7 28.88 263.5 68.92
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 270.6 28.65 262.9 67.45
All results in MB/s.

ASUS takes the lead once again, but as usual, the performance is so close that it’s negligable.

Rendering & Image Manipulation

Writing files to disk or reading a website doesn’t do much to exercise our CPU, so for that, we turn to a few common scenarios – image editing, video rendering, music conversion, and 3D rendering.

Adobe Lightroom 5.5 Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 589 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 594 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 636 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 895 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 975 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 981 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Cinebench R15 OpenGL CPU
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 132.63 800
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 123.43 799
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 119.54 759
Higher results are better.
dBpoweramp R15 FLAC to MP3
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 829 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 884 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 874 s
500 FLAC to 320Kbps MP3.
HandBrake 0.99 Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 2187 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 2207 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 2319 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.

More of the same here.

Sub-system Performance

For memory and CPU testing, we utilize SiSoftware’s Sandra 2013 (SP3a), and for Ethernet testing, we use iperf (or more appropriately, the Java-based jperf which utilizes it).

Sandra 2014 SP2 (Memory) Integer Float
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 27.472 GB/s 27.607 GB/s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 27.466 GB/s 27.458 GB/s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 21.604 GB/s * 21.673 GB/s *
Int/Float/Cache results in GB/s; higher is better.* MSI board tested with DDR3-1866 (vs. 2133) sticks due to space limitations.
Sandra 2014 SP2 (Arithmetic) Dhrystone Whetstone
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 156.90 GIPS 86.03 GFLOPS
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 148.79 GIPS 83.01 GFLOPS
Higher is better.
Sandra 2014 SP2 (Multi-core) Bandwidth Latency
ASUS Z97I-PLUS 31.56 GB/s 36.5 ns
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK 31.86 GB/s 36.7 ns
MSI Z97I Gaming AC 28.34 GB/s 36.9 ns
Bandwidth results; higher is better. Latency results; lower is better.

It’s interesting here that despite ASUS having a clock boost, it matched up well with GIGABYTE which didn’t auto-OC itself. As for MSI, even though memory has no big say in the Arithmetic test, it fell behind the other two boards here.

In the end, there’s usually a trade-off between boards somewhere in testing, and there’s no exception here. Overall, they all perform well.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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